What we have here is a bit of a mystery. Yes, that can sometimes be the case with spy photos, but the Genesis G80 is already a newcomer on the scene, so we’re not looking a mid-cycle facelift here. And it’s definitely a Genesis – if you can’t tell by that oh-so-happy grille there’s a G80 badge clearly visible on the trunk. There’s always the possibility that some kind of high-performance variant is in the works, but based on everything we’ve heard from Genesis boss Manfred Fitzgerald we think this is unlikely.
What is likely, however, is some kind of powertrain development incorporating a new hybrid system. Take a close look at the front fender – that’s decidedly not a typical G80 component. It appears to be a very rough, possibly hand-made fender with a misshapen arc for the wheel well. The primitive camouflage makes it harder to see the overall shape of the fender, but at some angles, it looks a bit fatter than a stock part as well. Further back, the rear wheel arch seems normal but there’s tape clearly visible on the rocker panel. Again, this looks like a very rough piece that could literally be taped into position.
How would all this play into a hybrid system? If we’re looking at a development mule as opposed to a prototype production car, the rough-fitting panels could easily house new powertrain components, especially up front where the added complexity of a hybrid system could require modification. Modified rocker panels could allow battery access, or perhaps room for testing equipment. Point being, mules like this are all about testing functionality, not packaging.
There’s also a possibility that this could be a development car for a Euro-spec G80 that is expected to arrive for 2019. We tend to favor the hybrid powertrain hypohthesis, especially since Fitzgerald has talked in the past about the importance of electrification and how it will impact the future of motoring.
We’ll keep an eye out for more Genesis test vehicles to see if we can unravel this curious mystery.